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Palm Beach County boosts elections budget by 35 percent.
Sun-Sentinel. 07 June 2005. By Anthony Man, Staff writer
Palm Beach County commissioners questioned some of Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson's spending plans Monday, but ultimately went along with giving him a budget increase that would more than cover the new employees he wants to hire.

Commissioners repeatedly referred to a 5 percent increase for the Palm Beach County Elections Office, but the budget they tentatively approved would give much more about 35 percent.

That's because commissioners granted the 5 percent increase on top of the $8 million approved budget for the current fiscal year, not the $6.2 million Anderson is actually expected to spend, county Budget Director Liz Bloeser said. The approved $8.4 million outstrips the expected fiscal year spending by $2.2 million.

The county also is setting aside an additional $1.5 million to buy more electronic voting machines.

The total is about $400,000 less than Anderson requested Monday.

After sitting through a PowerPoint slide show describing Anderson's mission statement and vision statement for the office, commissioners objected to several of his spending plans.

Even some of Anderson's fellow Democrats said he shouldn't go ahead with his plan to engage in extensive voter outreach that includes educating voters on issues.

Commissioners Burt Aaronson and Addie Greene told Anderson it would raise too many questions and might detract from his ability to run unbiased elections.

"The vision I have right now is for the Supervisor of Elections Office to be very efficient and have every vote counted," Aaronson said.

After the meeting, Anderson said commissioners are uneasy about the education concept because it's an unfamiliar concept. "I do not agree that you cannot conduct that kind of activity from a nonpartisan office," he said.

Anderson originally requested a $14.2 million budget, including $1.5 million for voting machines. He later pared that down to $10.4 million, largely because the state Legislature eliminated the runoff primary in 2006 and decided not to have a special election.

In his first proposal, Anderson said he wanted money to hire 15 new employees. He later reduced that number to 10, and on Monday told commissioners who could get by with seven. The office has 39 full-time employees.

Aaronson was skeptical about the need for more. "The fact of the matter is you have seasons. Like down here we have a `season' when the roads are all jammed and the restaurants you can't get into. I look at the Supervisor of Elections Office somewhat the same way."

Separately, Anderson said the state Ethics Commission had found probable cause that he filed an erroneous financial disclosure during last year's campaign.

He said he submitted a revised report, though it wasn't in time to alter the ethics panel's decision made Thursday, and due to be made public today.

He said the omissions on the ethics report failing to list ownership of his former home, even though he listed the mortgage as a liability, and not listing a loan to his campaign as an asset to be repaid were inadvertent.


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